Co-op Students of the Year

Engineering, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Social Sciences, Continuing Studies

- Lauren Frost

From building a cost-effective, low-impact way of tracking pedestrian traffic to championing co-op student hiring within the informtion and communications technology sector, UVic co-op students make an impact wherever they go. Each year, we recognize the extraordinary ways that co-op students contribute to their workplaces and communities—we’re pleased to announce that our 2019 Co-op Student of the Year recipients are: 

Siena Testa (commerce)
Business Co-op Program Award

To some, moving across the country to work in a completely new industry would seem like a risky decision. To third-year business student Siena Testa, it was the decision that took her career, academics, and professional confidence to the next level.

For her first co-op work term, Testa accepted a job offer from the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) in Ottawa. CENGN’s members and partners work together to drive innovation and talent development in Canada’s information and communications technology sector. As a a human resources specialist position, Testa was tasked with screening applications for the highly coveted CENGN Internship Program, which receives close to 800 applications for at total of 12 co-op positions each term.

When Testa brought an idea to expand the internship program to her supervisor, she was given the freedom to follow through. This independent project, combined with her extraordinary ability to forge meaningful relationships with hiring managers, won her the CEO WOW award, an honour given to a CENGN employee who makes an extraordinary impact on the organization. “The impact of Siena’s departure at the end of the work term has not gone unnoticed,” says Siena’s supervisor Nathalie Guthrie. “She has raised the bar for CENGN’s standard of excellence.”

Jumping outside of her comfort zone opened the door to a life-changing experience. “I am seriously considering a career in human resources now, and Nathalie and I have talked about returning for a second co-op term,” says Testa. “Deciding to accept a job with CENGN was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Lena Price (political science)
Optional and Professional Programs Award

Lena Price has always had a community-oriented attitude. The third-year student’s desire to help people brought her to UVic to pursue a unique degree—a major in political science with a minor in public administration, combined with a Human Dimensions of Climate Change certification. Her passion for making a difference fuels her various campaigning efforts with the university's student society and led her to accept a co-op work term with the BC Public Service Agency.

During her co-op, Price worked as an employment programs assistant in the Employment Programs Resources Office (EPRO), which facilitates a variety of special hiring programs within the provincial government. Price was tasked with planning and implementing the corporate co-op program, which supports all co-op employers and students in the BC Public Service. She also led the creation of an initiative called Online Orientation Day, which allowed co-op students working for the BC Public Service across the province to attend orientation in a way that was previously only available to those working in Victoria.

“My favourite part of the job was being able to support other co-op students during their work terms,” says Price. “Through all the events I hosted and attended, I saw how each cohort of co-op students benefitted and grew from their co-op experiences.”

Price is confident that the connections she made during her work term will help her launch a career in any direction she chooses. “The people I worked with helped me realize how much I love project management and event planning, and how valuable those skills are to promoting advocacy and affecting change.”

Kyle Coralejo (computer science)

When Kyle Coralejo came to UVic to pursue a degree in computer science, he knew that hands-on learning would be a part of his experience. He’d already completed a chemical engineering degree at the University of Alberta, but it hadn’t included experiential learning, so he was eager to take part in the co-op program at UVic. Now, with three work terms under his belt, the fourth-year student has gained the hands-on experience he was hoping for.

Coralejo recently completed his second and third work terms with the City of Edmonton, where he was in charge of prototyping devices to support municipal initiatives and enhance the lives of Edmonton residents. This included designing products that exceeded the expectations of his supervisors, such as a device that counts pedestrian traffic using thermal cameras and computer vision algorithms.

“Kyle was able to find a solution to a problem that other experienced analysts had been unable to solve,” says Coralejo’s supervisor Norman Mendoza. “His work prevented larger scale projects from being delayed, saving the City of Edmonton hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Coralejo made such a positive impression on his employers that he was asked to act as a mentor to other co-op students who were new to the team. “I delegated tasks, answered questions, and offered my assistance any time something unexpected happened,” says Coralejo. “I felt like my co-op experience had come full circle—I was able to watch the other co-op students gain the same confidence under my mentorship that I gained in my first work term.”

Find out more

Co-op Employers of the Year for 2019

About UVic’s Co-op Students of the Year.

Photos

In this story

Keywords: co-op, employment

People: Kyle Coralejo, Lena Price, Siena Testa

Publication: The Ring


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